Sun action : science day RAG

Between clouds , managed this stirring sight. Very pleased to read that AR  had appeared , this being AR 2738 which had disappeared around the limb for two weeks. In white light photosphere view there was plenty surface action and a couple of small pores. Plages usually show up here , but it was difficult viewing being near the limb. In Ha there was plenty action with arching prominences, plasma condensing and surface granulation.

A very fine show for our current solar minimum . 35 mm of aperture and wide field does give grand views,


Observing session 11th-12th February 2019.

Swadlincote C6r refractor , Neq6, 13mm Nagler ,5.5mm Meade UWA.

All my apps and net forecasts  gave massive cloud cover. Listening to radio 4 , I heard “clear breaks” and a touch of frost. Heading out at 10 gave three lovely clear hours . The opposite situation from the night before , when setting up in clear sky to find it clouded over completely , a few minutes later.

Transparency wasn’t up to much , I usually don’t look south west , but Gemini looked great and I had one of the best views of NGC 2392 , the “Eskimo Nebula”. X216 really brought out the central white dwarf star ,the bright core and the dimmer halo.

Not much luck with the Coma Berenices galaxies , M64 (“black eye”), M85 with a star like centre, the faint M88,M91 ,M99 and M100 by averted vision, no great things there ! NGC 4725 at +9.4 did look bright as did the “needle galaxy”, NGC 4565. M53 did show as a globular , but not much contrast. Better luck with binaries, very surprised to see the secondary of 35 Comae Berenices at low power, it opens out into a stunning triple. What secrets these low power views hold !

Cold hovered around zero degrees , no breeze and still clear.
Porrima ( gamma Virginie ) showed as very open at 2.8″, a stunning sight.Not so long  ago , it was a struggle to get even a glimpse of a split. Adds some interest finding binaries opening and closing as they move.

Up to Canes Venatici and a lovely view of “La Superba” one of the brightest red stars , on its way to becoming a planetary Nebula. 25 CNv gave a wide 1.7″, a bit wider for Σ 261 . Followed this with a view of the colourful “Cor Caroli” . There’s only two visible stars in Canes Venatici , with M94 being between them . Come off that line and there’s a plethora of galaxies .

Just a few years ago and with less light pollution , I’d scan the remarkable CNv galaxies. Nowadays they are hardly a streak ( “whale galaxy”) , but there are plenty of accessible targets , under ,

Clear skies ! Nick.

Stunning February views.

There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting at the eyepiece with a red headlamp and some simple drawing equipment .

Not only does it relax the eye , but enables more detail to be observed. Monoceros has been well placed, with “Hubbles variable Nebula” NGC 2261 providing superb views, well worth finding. Here are some show case targets, some spectacular binaries including 15 Monocerotis, the brightest star of the Christmas tree cluster , NGC 2264.

The winter Albireos provide a lot of colour as does ” Hind’s crimson star” SAO 150058 , a glowing deep red coal in Lepus.

Temperatures have dipped before midnight and just a few hours has been adequate. My sky has not been bright enough to catch much galaxy action just yet. Here’s to clear skies ! Nick.

Gaps in the clouds.

Swadlincote cloud lands. 200 f6 Orion optics and C6r.

28/1/19 early hours were wonderfully clear , the evening just gave an hour of useable sky. Determined to get something done on the lists building up .

NGC 2420 in Gemini gave a wonderfully compact centre . It’s a Trumpler class I1r open cluster some 2 billion years old . There are very few open clusters of this age. Not only is it found way above the galactic disc , but the stars are odd. They are half the age of our Sun , but similar composition. Thought to be either expelled from the disc or captured by galactic cannibalism. Wait until it gets high to capture its full features.

Zeta Cancri (Tegmine) is a wonderful sight , give it plenty to split the 5.9″ separation into a little over 1″ companion triple element.

Early evening and Auriga rises giving a wonderful view of the Messier clusters , M37 bring the finest. To one side of the constellation you’ll easily find .NGC 1664 ( kite cluster) , think that’s the first time that it actually looked like a kite , quite stunning.

NGC 2281 is a rich favourite Auriga cluster , lots of chains there .

A trip to Ryman’s and I found a Pentel Hybrid white pen. The Works has A5 spiral bound heavy black card notebooks. All we need now is more

clear skies ! Nick.

Faint fuzzies and the comet.

Swadlincote 17/12/18 C6r on Eq6 pro.

Up at 4 , lovely dark sky , no neighbouring lights . Firstly , find that elusive comet 46/P. Just over the roof and very bright with a green tinge.UMa overhead leading down to Arcturus and a full Bootes. Spotted the “ghost of Jupiter ” bright planetary nebula and the “Spindle galaxy” in Sextans , a long bright NGC 3115.

Up to Leo and a surprise to catch all three galaxies of the triplet at x90. Then some views of the Canes Venatici galaxies. M94 being the brightest easiest catch between Cor Caroli  and Chara.

Down to a very bright M3 before returning to the galaxies. I had always very much enjoyed their shapes from darker skies . Views here are mainly by averted vision, any sort of light pollution will make big aperture ineffective. From dark sky sites for instance , NGC 4449 is really resolvable.

Finished on the gorgeous crescent of Venus . Some decent skies around ! Clear skies ! Nick.

Current planetary nebulae.

Swadlincote 29/10/18 C6r reduced to 120mm.13mm Nagler.

Very well worth finding , mostly brightly coloured blue to blue green.

These are very obvious in the field of view , being non stellar. You can take the brightest up to x200. Indeed the “Esquimaux Nebula” in Gemini will show its hood and central white dwarf star. I had M27 filling the field at x200. Its surprising to see the different sizes and brightness of these most beautiful nebulae .

I recall a night when Andy arrived and we hit many on this list and my details of more obscure planetaries. They blink either with direct or averted vision. Some respond very well to UHC filters.

Personally I like the names and what has happened to give us a view of these temporary features, Nick.

Pegasus stars !

Swadlincote 28/10/18 C6r reduced to 120mm aperture.

Lovely clear forecast , set out the chair , looked at at a huge rainbow and heavy rain. Set up the mount at 5.30, hurrah for dark evenings.

Some chill , but superb seeing before the Moon climbed up. I reduced the aperture to 120mm to get more contrast , certainly worked. Pegasus gave some  stunning binaries.

I had a look at Bu1.  The triple in NGC 281 (“Packman nebula” in Cassiopeia). Very pleased not only to get some tight splits , but some faint companions, clear skies ! Nick.

The “Ram’s eyes” and powdered glass !

Swad. 30/9/18 C6r 22mm and 5mm LVW

Set up after 6, four forecasts promised clear skies , wall to wall. Just a thought and I covered the mount . It then rained very hard !

After the rain, a few hours before the moon. These are ace. The Cygnus clusters were just stunning !

Mesartim. What a bright stunning sight at low power. Glaring out of the dark : The “ram’s eyes”!
1 Arietis. (01h53.5 +19 18′ ) a 2.9″ split , giving yellow and blue.
λ Arietis (SAO 75051 ) yellow and blue.
30 Arietis (SAO 75471)

I got 33 Arietis with ΟΣ43 at one side . ΟΣ43 ιs a bit below one arc second. The seeing was ultra stable. I could just about squeeze out a peanut shaped diffraction disc. ( remember that we don’t actually see stars, your Optics squeeze the light into diffraction discs. By slight defocussing you can get very close bright companions to show up) Diffraction discs by defocussing are very handy for testing out refractor Optics.

I’ve marked the best of the little known Cygnus and Vulpecula clusters.They really are most spectacular , powdered glass really hits the mark here in NGC 6819.

I turned to Cygnus high in the south west as it’s opposite the moon glow. The open clusters really showed up. I’ve marked the best ones here with asterisks.There are some favourites here.

The open clusters are temporary . They don’t have the tight centres and gravity of globular clusters to hold them together. Sooner or later they drift apart to leave lonely stars. Be interesting to find out if our own Sun was part of a cluster or constellation !

The targets found are fairly easy and ideal for moonlight and other light polluted skies , Nick.